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Creating an engaging product survey: the 12-step guide
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Creating an engaging product survey: the 12-step guide

A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
8th March, 2024
16 min read
A product survey with boxes checked and crossed being posted on a stylised background
A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
8th March, 2024
16 min read
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Why are product surveys so important?
12 tips for better product survey responses

How do customers feel about your products? Our 12 expert tips will help you get the answers you need.

On a customer discovery journey and want to create a product survey that gets responses? We have 11 engaging customer survey questions that can help, but before you put pen to paper (or hand to keyboard), you need some key product survey steps.

We've compiled all those steps here for a solid product survey launch. From objectives to incentives to impactful promotion, you'll be swimming in responses the next time you send a product survey!

Why are product surveys so important?

The importance of product surveys can't be understated. They are so effective in understanding your customer, helping you activate even better marketing approaches, are critical to driving actionable insights and product fixes, and can kickstart an ongoing feedback loop that generates customer advocates.

Done well, product surveys can help you get into your customers' heads and, in turn, enable you to develop products people will buy and use and find similar, like-minded customers.

When you ask the right questions, you get a competitive edge and understand your future in the marketplace. It's also so simple; instead of presuming what customers think, you can ask!

You can:
  • Discover if a new idea has customer demand.
  • Ask what types of products or features are desirable.
  • Learn how customers use your product and what problem(s) it solves. If any!
  • Assess your overall product quality or usability.
  • See if they'd recommend your business to others.

But remember, these benefits only come into play when you get responses, so follow our 12 tips!

Key product survey steps: 12 tips for better product survey responses

1. Create objectives for your product survey

We know you're desperate to start writing the questions, but what do you hope to achieve with a product survey? Do you want to measure satisfaction, add a feature, or discover more about your audience? Coming up with objectives is one of the key product survey steps.

Objectives ensure:
  • You ask the right questions
  • You target the right people
  • You know what good looks like
  • You align with your internal plans

For example, if the customers say they are desperate for a new feature, are you able to deliver it? How will internal teams accept the news if customers say they wouldn't pay for your new proposed feature that's already in a development pipeline?

It's essential to have these conversations now. Ensure you also ask multiple teams what critical information they need. Include what you can, all while ensuring you are aware of the tensions between keeping your survey manageable and easy to complete and getting the responses that matter.

2. Create a target audience

The next step? Define your target audience. Identifying a target audience for your product survey means a less scattered approach and therefore, better answers.

The segmented audience could be:
  • High-value customers
  • Unactivated/lapsed customers
  • New users/customers
  • Casual users
  • Decision makers
  • Early adopters

These can also be assigned as such:
  • Randomised: A random mix across all your segments
  • Systematic: Everyone is invited to take part in stages or waves
  • Stratified: Different groups or segments that you then sample at random
  • Clusters: 'Types’ of customer are selected as whole groups

3. Choose the proper product survey

There are two main types of survey to consider:

  • Linear: Participants progress through a set of questions in a linear order, one after the other.

  • Branching: A more modern take, where each answer opens a new ‘branch’ based on participants' answers. If they say that they don't like something, a question may ask them to elaborate. If you need more information, we've answered the question what are branching scenarios.

What product survey structure works best? The one that's the most likely to get responses and meet your goals.

We recommend a branching structure for something as important as a product survey and a linear survey for something simpler.

Product surveys can be long or short and presented in a web form, as a paper document, on an online page, or embedded in your website, and there are many great tools to help build a survey.
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4. Craft your questions

When it's time to create your product survey, focus on straightforward language and a simple layout.

Jargon should be eliminated - this is vital: you are talking to Joe Public, not a colleague who knows all of your abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms.

Weed out ambiguity, too. Trying to ask too much in one question can confuse readers. Don't ask: 'Is ours a feature-rich product for your subscription fee?' This should be two questions, one on features and one on fees.

Try to visually break up the flow and question types. Here are some ideas:

  • Multiple choice: This provides respondents with predefined answer options, and they choose the option that best fits their opinion or experience.
  • Open-ended: These allow respondents to provide free-form responses in their own words for richer insights.
  • Conjoint Analysis Surveys: You can provide hypothetical product scenarios and ask customers to choose between options.
  • Likert Scales: Customers are asked if they strongly agree, agree, feel neutral, disagree, or strongly disagree with a statement.
  • Matrix: A grid asking for ratings on many product variables (subscription fees, look, features, support) so respondents can score many elements in one place.

All the aforementioned questions work well as long as you remember the aim: to get an answer that meets your needs in the shortest, most straightforward way possible.

You can help yourself by mixing up images, grids, scales, and sliders to avoid user fatigue. While open-ended, free-form text can be used as an accompaniment to all of the above questions, go easy on this, as it is labour-intensive for the respondent to write a considered response for each question.

When you add questions, stick to a logical flow (e.g. keep question clusters focused on a single area like pricing, features, the market, or issues) and start broad and narrow down as the section continues.

'How competitive do you believe our pricing is?' is a broad question.
'How often do you use the widget feature?' is a niche question.

Question ideas
  • How likely are you to recommend our product to a friend or colleague?
  • How frequently do you use our product(s) or features?
  • Which features do you use the most?
  • What made you choose our product?
  • Before finding us, how did you solve your problems?
  • What features would you like our product to have?
  • What do you use our product to do?

Always consider how long it will take to comprehend, navigate, and complete your product survey and respect the respondents' time. So test run your questions with willing team members to ensure you have optimised the length for maximum participant engagement.

5. Optimise survey accessibility

A mobile-friendly or mobile-first approach is essential, especially when people may take surveys outside working hours. You may already have planned a test on all browsers and devices, but accessibility is also of the utmost importance.

Accessibility efforts are necessary to remove barriers to interaction. Everyone should have equal opportunity access to your survey.

  • Label all form fields for visually impaired users using a screen reader.
  • Use alt text to describe images.
  • Consider showing all the questions on one page rather than relying on a constantly refreshing page after each inputted answer. These rapidly changing formats are not always compatible with accessibility tools.
  • Colours shouldn't be used as answers. For example, don’t use green or red to denote happiness/unhappiness. Always use words when possible.
  • You should make the most of any headings, labels, and titles to describe in full detail what you need.

6. Address privacy concerns

Addressing privacy concerns is vital and can be a massive win for your response rates, as an anonymous survey allows the respondents to open up. Despite your most fervent wishes, no one wants a keen product manager to call them to debate their responses out of the blue. Before you send, ensure you stress how you can guarantee users’ anonymity and reiterate your general data privacy measures.

Ask yourself what data is essential to you and what you could do without. You may like to provide the option to add personal data that identifies the users if they wish. You may get better response rates if you explain the engagement they can opt into when they provide this information (such as: none, a phone call, a follow-up email).

7. Pilot test the survey

So many product surveys get launched without a small trial run, which is a missed opportunity. Send your completed survey out internally or to a handful of trusted users, seek clarity and request if it meets your goals for relevance, and make any necessary adjustments. After the first successful send, you will get faster and better at these!

8. Incorporate incentives

The survey is written, and you're ready to send it out. How about a sweetener for the best open rates and responses? When we think of key product survey steps, motivation should be one of the considerations we make, and it's a great idea to consider looking at incentives and rewards for participation. Our advice is to consider a low-cost, high-volume approach, such as offering a small monetary payment for each completed survey.

Studies have shown that prepaid cash incentives effectively improved questionnaire response rates. It’s not all about high values, either. The paper revealed a lack of observed differences in response rates between giving $150 and $200.

The amount you choose has to be about the work required and what the data means to you. How valuable is this information? How many people are you targeting? How likely are they to fill it in? Incentives should always align with the task at hand, neither too low to be of value nor too excessive to seem like a bribe.

You could test a survey with no incentive first, following up with a cash incentive afterwards if response rates are low, or you may suspect that your audience will need an extra reason to undertake the study, in which case, allocate the budget immediately.

Wondering how to run a prize? One of the easiest ways to manage an incentive programme is to offer eGift codes for major retailers upon completion. Many businesses offer this service and handle it all and can ensure your competition rules are adhered to (for example, ensuring that only one entry per person will qualify for the incentive prize, and so on).

9. Promote the survey

When it comes to promotion, think of it like a consumer marketing campaign. That means you need a compelling call-to-action (maybe use that incentive end date!) and an array of marketing channels.

When you market the survey, state the benefits of their response. Promote your incentive and show how their thoughts could lead to fundamental changes that will impact the product and their experience.

So many companies get stuck sending product surveys via email to their database and calling it a day when, in fact, there are so many broadcast channels to consider:
  • Email/newsletters
  • Social media platforms
  • Email signatures
  • Paid for advertising
  • Blogs
  • Your website
  • In your product knowledge base
  • Pop up windows
  • Login areas
  • Support areas
  • Influencers
  • Field/in-person/events

The last point is essential, as you may want to consider how you reach people who aren't online. A QR code, URL, or printed version might all be necessary to ensure everyone can complete your product survey.

10. Monitor and analyse responses

Okay, so the survey is out there. Now what? Before you relax, ensure your tracking and analytics are working. Check the initial response rates and see what's happening. Everyone in your business will be interested in the answers, so now is a great time to schedule a meeting to display the key takeaways.

Look for:
  • Common themes that do or don’t back up your own hypothesis.
  • Outliers or unusual responses that deviate significantly. Answers that indicate extreme unhappiness may benefit from account support/urgent intervention.
  • Inconsistent feedback, which may signal confusion or ambiguity in the survey questions.
  • Segment analysis - are certain groups not responding? Do you need to promote on new platforms or in new ways to reach them?
  • General update: what is the uptake like?

11. Follow up and express gratitude

Want to stand out as a great business? Do one thing: say thank you for taking the survey, and don’t just rely on a message pop-up after completion. A special email is the least you can do.

After all, if you send a product survey that results in a new feature that makes savings or opens up a whole new market, your business could profit.

People love to know the effect they've had, so say thanks, share the findings, if appropriate, and ensure they know there will be extra chances to help later on.

You could keep the feedback loop going by allowing them to contact you to discuss the findings, and just like that, you've got an advocate!

12. A bonus tip!

Our last tip? Don't make product surveys too infrequent. Check-in regularly and see if anything has changed over time. We all have a change of heart now and again, after all.

In conclusion, there's never been a better time to create a product survey. Why not use Confluence to get started with engaging branching scenarios and get users thinking?
Or get started with our questions and begin creating your first survey today!

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Written by
A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
Content Writer
Elaine has established herself as a respected authority in the HR industry and uses her experience gained as the head of marketing in the employee rewards and recognition software sector to inform her reporting.